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Three Roses
Aaron Bone

You wouldn’t know anything if you wouldn’t know where I was. Where this story took place. So go ahead. Place yourself in a desert. Your own desert. I want it to be yours. Your sand. Your sun gleaming. Your own sweat. Your own thirst. If it’s not your own, I don’t even want to tell the story. If it’s not your own feet burning on the sand, your own fingers fondling the cactuses, your own lungs trying to push the heat away, I don’t want to tell a word.

The street is endless. If you have cars in your head, they are slow. And you’re not in any one of them. And they don’t stop. Not yet. If you think air-condition, I tell you, it’s broke. If you think shade, think of faded cotton-shreds flapping high above you on a thin flag pole. If you think wind is cool, think of the dry breath of a smouldering stone. The street is endless, but it’s taking you someplace. Someplace halfway. And like it’s something you’re supposed to remember, there’re words in your head. Three roses. It’s three roses you want, and the last one will be for me.

So it’s a ship you see in the desert. Ahead of you. Flickering in the hot air just above the ground. A big one. Long. High. Built for the ocean. For hundreds of passengers. A paddle-steamer. One on each side. Like huge waterwheels. The bow dug into the desert sand. The stern standing straight and firm. And as you come closer, the upper decks become clear. You do come closer. And you see the cars standing there. Everywhere. They have all come. Everyone. Queuing. Waiting in front of the paddles. Ferris wheels. Little cabins turning from down to up. From desert to deck. The people walking in, walking out somewhere above. Two men in fancy dress deciding on whom to let in. Just show them the face I gave you. They won’t greet you. They won’t recognise you as somebody important. But just show them the face I gave you walking through your desert, and they’ll let you in to me.

You saw the two roses the bouncers had in their buttonholes. But you’re a smart one. You didn’t go for them. Just because I told you something about three roses. You could go for the whole world then. But you just wait. You just open your eyes. You just enjoy what you are about to see. You just try and find me. It’s three roses you want. Remember? And the last one, yes: The last one is for me.

The cabin you came up with spills you out into the party. The premier deck. The lounge. The club. The gallery. The rest rooms. The bars. The tables. The rugs. The gold. The silver. And it’s got to be your own luxury. Your own excesses. You’re own whores lolling over you. Your own pictures speaking from their frames. From quiet to loud from soft to hard, you just have your look. The people around you luscious. Exuberant. Their skin lavender. Plenty of skin. And roses covering the rest. On the walls, the lamps. It’s roses hiding what you don’t want to see. Decorating what you’re looking for. Hiding themselves from you. I’m not hiding, but you haven’t seen me yet.
Can you hear my voice under all the music? Can you see my hair with all these lights? Can you smell me with all these perfumes killing your nose? You’re in danger, I think. You’re in danger of loosing something inside you that you haven’t even found. Are you impatient? Can you wait? Wait for something you have never seen? That you have lain your eyes upon so often before? You’re on a couch with lovely people entertaining you. Are you talking yet? Are you taking the world as cause for your happiness? Are you thanking? Drinking? Wasting your smiles on roses that can never smile back? Don’t think that. Don’t think at all. No smiles will be wasted tonight. Not a thought spent in vain. Just dance with the roses if the roses dance with you. Just coil up inside them if they open up for you.

You don’t have to listen. You know that sometimes even we talk too much. Because we have been waiting for such a long time. Do you know how long time can be? Captured in your silly sleepiness? Falling for your half-hearted beggary? Just because we feel needed? You know how we love to be called and admired? How we love to be painted and besung? How many of my sisters have answered your call? That somebody out there thinks of us is enough. And we will wait forever. You think a look is just a fraction of a second? For us, my dear, it is all our life.
So this is your party. Your people that you have called together. You have never seen them before? Don’t start quibbling. It doesn’t suit you. Not tonight. It’s your people you are dancing with. Your stars that you are living under when you look up. They have to be your very own. Tonight. Or nothing I will say can reach you. Is the big dipper dunking into your ocean? Has your desert formed any waves yet? Is your ship moving? Is the Polar star touching the horizon? It’s your sky. It has got to be your sky. You form it. You paint it. Or you will do nothing at all.

Relax. Hold on. Maybe it was too much for you. You know that sometimes we loose measure. Because we have none. We never had. We forget about you. I shall try not to excuse myself. For there is no need for that. Never is. With us, things just are. Sometimes not listening helps. I can only tell you that much and even then I am blanching and then you will maybe never see me. But I like you. And I want you to be a whole happy one when we meet. So I am telling you, sometimes, not listening helps.

You are right. Go to the bar. Drink. Swallow. Flush yourself down and swim in your own sea. Laugh with the people laughing at you. Talk about everything. Take yourself as a cause for loveliness. Be happy about being glad, be glad about not being sad, be sad about not being happy. Be fast and energetic. Be the first to greet the last throwing himself in your arms. Be black. Be white. Be soothing the tip of life springing into your skin. Wrap your skin around whomever you want. Show yourself. Communicate. Merge. Incorporate. Sometimes nothing can be fast enough. Sometimes everything moving is just running away. Keep yourself. Spread yourself. Share whatever you can. And most of all: dance. It is your music. Dance. It is your music making you move. So move. Move. Without going anywhere.

I think this is your first rose. I am glad you finally found her. Oh, and I am dying with envy at the same time. Except that we never die. We are killed. You can kill me. But I should not tell you that. I should whisper it into your ear when you are lying close to me and then I can put my tongue into it to keep my words from coming out again. But I am also happy. Because your first rose will carry you closer. Because the third rose, remember, the third rose is for me.

She has the rose on her belly. She smiles and her rose twinkles. And I could hate her, but you have never wanted to lay your head down on anything more. You can call her Artitia, and she is golden. She’s a queen, the highness of vinyards, the princess of grapes, the ruler of cellars. A skeleton in the winter, a sprout of hope in the spring, richness in summer and pure fertility in fall. She’s pearls in your mouth. She adores you like the mother of forgotten days. She captivates. Liberates. She looses herself and mingles until you want nothing more. Until her name is forgotten. Until loosing yourself is a simple step forward, because the ground has slipped, because the walls are giving way, because the sky is cushioning your fall. The moon is getting big enough to swallow you, the stars near enough to tickle your eyes. Lay down your head. Swallow. Breath in. Open your veins. Open yourself or something big will close down upon you.
Hold onto that railing. You are standing on the deck at the bow. It’s not the waves rocking you. It’s not the ship pressing your flesh and hailing a warm welcome. It is you. Solely you. Never forget that. It is your own quivering. Your own sobbing. Your own misery. Your own terror. Your own greatness. Your own bluntness. Your own world impinging your body like a bolt of destruction. Your own mouth boasting and praising yourself to immortality. Accusing yourself of gutlessness. Don’t you have to be a coward, wouldn’t you otherwise be a king? A saint? A model? Do you think you are too beautiful to fall? Hold onto that railing.

Everybody has enough of darkness at some point. Some earlier. Some when it is too late and their light has gone. Some even bask themselves in their dullness, their blankness, their invalidity, and then they break down and wonder who they are. But not you. That is why I have taken a liking in you. You are out there in the cold, on the railing, and you are just standing. Not trying to answer any question the wind carries to you. Not blowing any questions in the wind. Maybe you don’t even see the night to be dark. The blackness you are standing in to be gloomy. The desert you have come through to be vast and without hope. But I am again without measure. I am seeing you as one of us. You can not be that, can you? Sometimes I hope it so. But you can not. Can you see blackness to be no more than black? Emptiness to be no more than empty? Can you say little without minimising yourself and fearing unimportance to be put over you? Can you call yourself without the names others have given you?

Remember. Sometimes, not listening helps. You go back into the ship. The gallery. The balconies on the top deck. One huge room from here straight down to the hull. You enjoy the view. This is your party, remember? The people are spinning themselves up into one stirring mass of bodies. Noises from everywhere. Laughter. Smiles. Mouths open. Like they want to swallow you up. Flesh revealing itself so near it can tickle your eyes. You see. Black is more than black for you. Remember? But please, sit down. There’s always one empty seat everywhere. And then, everywhere is always full.

Enough of blackness. It’s the light that will catch you this time. The chandeliers. The lanterns on the walls. The candles on the petite tables comforting the hurried senses. Their innocent flickering will first amuse you. It will keep you entertained when you have had enough of bragging and boasting. When your own words maybe seem a little thin. But don’t go thinking too much. Just realise that you are not within yourself like you were before and go over to something else. Nobody is forcing you to anything. Most of all, don’t force yourself. Or nobody will believe a thing you do.

Is that all? That others believe in the fraud played before their eyes? Thoughts again. Bar them out, they won’t do you good. I say, keep them from infecting your soul. But then, can I believe my eyes, what game are you playing before me? Your smile just now, the little one scurrying over your lips? Did you think no one would see it? You don’t know me, gorgeous. Not yet. But wait. Oh, you just wait. How I adore you. So wise. Why of course. Think your thoughts. Go ahead. Throw your blackest of velvets over yourself and stroke yourself. How smooth. So smart. Indulge yourself in cynicism, bath in your ill moods and wipe them away with a smile. It’s all a question of taking yourself as what you are. And no more. Again, just a question of believing yourself.
It’s the second rose. Rip every pedal off her and she would still be an unattainable beauty. Invaluable, but not for you. The second rose. How I wish it could be somebody else. Of all the roses. But please remember. You know. I must not blow my own trumpet too hard or I will have no one left wanting to play it. So grace has won you over this time. The pure simplicity of being lucid. Of floating on a cushion of pleasantness. I must confess, she is the most precious rose we have to offer. It was good of you to choose her. No one else would suit you better. But forgive me sister for saying this. She does no more than dressing.

But please, dress yourself, gorgeous. I will love to look at you. I am looking at you, you know? Or maybe you don’t? Maybe you don’t know that we are always following the ones who have called us. You should know. Everybody should. Everybody should know there’s a procession of us around them. Dancing. Turning in our flawless little souls. Lulling our hopes and morrows to harmonise to your sublunary songs. We can wait, you know. We can wait forever. It is not us who die.

So take your piece of her. Your own piece. Let yourself fall and swim in her rarity and the buoyancy she disperses. Resile to the embryonic germ that awaits to be planted in a better fortune. Grow yourself. Bulge. Broaden your desires and blossom in the depth of your own ears listening to your own mouth praising your private renaissance. Favour the clockworks stopping within yourself. Give your ear to their remembering their empty beat. Prefer the empty plates inciting your appetite. What can tempt the overflowing stomach? What colour will enjoy to join a rainbow? Which drop of water eager to dip into the ocean?

Call her Morpho. Call her Lucia. Call her a flicker. A trifle. A twitch. A moment. A shadow. A lullaby. An uproar. A revolution. A prostitution. A common grave. Call her the times when your heart doesn’t beat. Call her the tip of your finger. Call her a simple touch. Call her dirt. Call her shit. Call her the ass. Call her when you’re tired. Call her when you long for her. Call her anytime at all, and she won’t come. Thank her. Hail her. And she will cast her love on you forever. Me talking again. Has a spell come over my mouth? But who can help me, I wonder? Who can hear my call? It’s just me seeing you stumble that makes me weak. Oh, I know the likes of me can’t be weak. I do know it just too well. I know the likes of me can not fail. I know that, too. We know we can’t do anything at all.

Stop. You must not believe. Not everything. You must learn to sort out. You must have your own something to carry you around. My hand only reaches so far, and beyond... It’s not about one thing or the other. It’s about anything at all. It’s about mist and clouds and night and staring into the sun. Can you see in any one of them? Can you see my hair with all these lights? Will you find my footprints with all these traces and tracks showing you around? Will you listen when the talking is so loud and dispersive?

So you have turned the page. You have continued. Keep on doing that. How I plead. But I don’t mind. I just have to watch out. Be careful. We, too, can be wise sometimes, you know. If we can be anything at all. I must not make myself unattractive. I must keep something you want. I must be someone you want. I must be someone at all. And here I am loosing myself. Finding you does that, you know? I didn’t know that before, but I see it now. It’s so simple. So easy for me to say once it has crept into my mind. Maybe it will sound foreign to you, maybe things like these you have not encountered. But then I have to ask you: Have you encountered anyone at all?

Here. Take my hand. Take my hand, goddamn, am I talking to an imbecile? That’s better. Put your nose up. Sniff like a dog getting the scent of something. A dog would have found me straight away, you know? But then, a dog wouldn’t know what to do with me once he found me. So you go wandering. You can leave that silly seriousness out of your face. You don’t have to be important to be alone and walk around not knowing where to go. Do you have to be strong to consist in your own party? This is your party, remember? These are your guests. This is your ship. Your desert. Remember? Your very own. This is your life, in fact. This is only you, remember? Only you, and maybe me.

You get up from your seat. You get up from your chair and a seat is free. One seat is free and one seat is free everywhere. You get up from your seat and nobody is sitting at all. Everybody is dancing. Running. Strolling. Doing everything you do. Everybody is doing everything you do. You laugh, they laugh. You burst out with a joke, everybody has a joke. You throw a punch line and they punch right back. You move a foot, they move a foot. You tremble, they quiver. You articulate, they confiscate and mould it into their repertoire.

Have you ever been seen alone before? Has anyone ever tried to separate you? Have you ever been dissected? Has anybody ever looked at you? Have you been formed? Have you formed? Have you found anything? Have you let anybody find? Have you been a cause for a search? Has anybody listened to your song? Has anybody smelled? Has anybody tasted your food? Has anybody eaten from your plate? Seen your colours? Have you shown yourself before? Have you ever, ever in your life, been known?

Your one hurt is all hurts? Your one ill is all ills? Your one ship is all ships? Have you ever crashed before? You turn to the sun so everybody turns to the sun? It rains for you and rains everywhere? The wind is good for you and so for everyone? Your machines are running full and so are all the others? What if you find my rose? Will it be for everyone?

I am sinking. I can feel how I am sinking. I can remember how high I used to be. Will you feel bad when I tell you all these things? Will you feel bad when I say that you have pulled me down? That you have covered me with dirt and blood and flesh? That you have separated me? That I have said farewell to all my sisters and that they have left me without listening to the first word out of my mouth? That they are treating me like a leper? That they aren’t treating me at all anymore? Will you still hold on to me after all that? How childish. Yes how very childish I have become. Already they are begging to see me again, my sisters. Already they are befriending me. Did I want to scare you? Did I want to draw my lots? Did I want to put you to a test? Never did I want to do that? Did I let myself go? Will I ever let myself go? Oh, will I ever go anywhere?

The third rose. You have found it. Deep in the hull of the ship, way from the brightness. Embroiled in twilight. Plastered to the metal planks. The red little rose. Where even your heart beat fades to the dull echoes twinkling in their memories. In this sonic trap, where every step becomes a story, every sound an ode, every scrap a tale that surrounds itself with pregnant sagacities eager to spit themselves up. There it is lying, like a relic of a great feast, like the surplus of a feisty bacchanal. You just reach down to call it yours now.

Turmoil. Lightning. Hurricanes. Tidal waves. And drought. Who ever said anything was easy? Earthquakes. Volcanoes. Lava streams. And hailstorms. Who ever said the story wouldn’t end right here? Plagues. Carcinomas. Festering stubs. And strangling emboli. Who would have ever thought something like this would happen? Did I know? Did somebody not tell me? Like I said, we don’t have to excuse ourselves for anything. Although maybe this time I would try some words. I feel so much closer now. Well it’s too late now. It’s all going down the drain anyway. In one giant swirl. The walls of the ship are bending to fit in. The people, your guests are vanishing one after the other. The roses, the lamps, the wine, the glasses. They are all sucked in. The fat. The naked. The opulent. The affluent. The intruders. The cohabitants. They are all being washed away.
Who would have known, the little hole under that third rose. Am I lacking any real empathy. Should I help my laughing. Should I subdue anything? Not now, I feel, always, but not now. Now is not the time to oppress or smother. To restrain or eliminate. That can’t be my part. Everybody else can do that. You most of all, I fear. All I can do is jump in. Dip in. Like a drop into the ocean. Let myself whirl around. I have got to be there. I want to be there. You are loosing so much. I am there.

Are you confused yet? Have you lost ground? Have you screwed up your horizons and broken your windows? Are your glasses empty? Are your plates in shards? Are you holding onto that rose? Are you keeping it for me? Are you holding it in one hand? Is your other hand free? Can you see me flying? Can you feel me coming in? Do you know?
Will you know me, or will you know nothing at all?

© by Aaron Bone, 2001 May Edition

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